What is Moxibustion?

22015-moxastickonwomansabdomenMoxibustion (moxa therapy) is a kind of heat therapy practiced in Chinese medicine. It is also part of traditional medical systems in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Tibet and Mongolia. Moxa is made from the herb mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris.) During moxa therapy dried plant material is burned on or near the surface of skin. The intention is to warm specific acupuncture points, meridians, or specific areas of the body to increase circulation and move Qi.


What does Moxibustion feel like?


Many acupuncturists use something called a moxa stick. This is an easy and effective way to apply moxa therapy. A moxa pole looks like a large cigar that can be lit. While it smolders it produces a deeply penetrating heat. The moxa pole is held over certain areas sometimes corresponding to specific acupuncture points. You should feel relaxing warmth. Many people report decrease pain, cramping or spasm in the problem area. Let your practitioner know if it feels too hot. At no point should you feel burning. The ash from the pole is carefully tapped off into a bowl. Moxa is generally preformed during an acupuncture treatment as an adjunctive therapy.


With some instruction, moxa therapy can be preformed at home. Many patients benefit from this self-care therapy between acupuncture sessions.


When is Moxibustion used?


Moxa is used for a number of conditions.

  • Digestive problems with loose bowel movements or irregular elimination, lack of appetite
  • Boost immunity to prevent colds and flus
  • Gynecological issues such as painful or irregular periods
  • Infertility
  • Breech presentation in late term pregnancy
  • Arthritis pain, especially if it gets worse in cold or damp weather
  • Other types of pain conditions
  • Fatigue and exhaustion


Talk to your acupuncturist to learn more about this powerful therapy. At Integrative Acupuncture in Montpelier and Williston, Vermont, we use moxibustion daily, give us a call to find out more.